View Full Version : To train in South Africa or not?

11th Nov 2010, 00:08
Hi all!

I'm soon to head home to SA from the UK with the intent on doing my CPL, the endstate goal being to fly for a major carrier.

I was looking at doing it at the 43 Air School, which I have heard has a good reputation.

Recently I attended a recruitment exhibition here in London and one chap stressed to me the need for JAA as it was the only one worth having. My question is this: If I do my CPL in South Africa will this be a bad move if I have the intention for working for an international carrier?

I've been reading as many threads as possible to get up to speed on this as I want to make the right call, so any advice or pointers would be appreciated.

Thanks :)

11th Nov 2010, 02:23
Recently I attended a recruitment exhibition here in London and one chap stressed to me the need for JAA as it was the only one worth having

What total and utter :mad: Sounds like desparation to get you into his flight school.

It all depends on where you want to fly. If you want to fly in Europe, then a JAA license is a must have, but to fly in Africa or other parts of the world it doesn't really matter as you would have to convert whatever license you have to the local equivelant - even a JAA license holder would have to do that. South Africa is an ICAO state, so your license is easily transferrable should you wish to go and work overseas.

43rd is a good school, but don't rule out the other schools. The 2 schools at PE itself both have good reputaions also, and are actually based on the airport so you would not be wasting time and money positioning to use the ILS/NDB/VOR for the instrument part of the training.

The syllabus in SA is a good one. It used to be based on the old UK CAA system, but has recently aligned itself more with the JAA system (which is now EASA anyway) so you will still be getting a good standard of training.

It's one of those little things that annoys me, when people hear you trained in South Africa, they immediately omit the world South and just hear Africa and then assume you have been trained to a low standard in the 3rd world which just is not true. In some ways they are light years ahead, with computer based exams with instant results - non of this paper based exam and 2 week nail biting wait like us in the more advanced 1st world have :ugh:


12th Nov 2010, 03:07
im kinda in the same boat. ive found a great school in the states for a good price and that you can get your JAA fATPL in 10 months. But want to really know if i do my training in SA what am i getting myself into what is true and what is not

Im originally from south africa and hold european citizenship and was thinking maybe do my training in SA to be close to my folks than in the states and then once done with training in SA convert my license to JAA. im trying to find reasons to go to south africa and train but cant find any and heres why so hope you can help me and tell me whats correct and whats absolute :mad:

I've heard the same thing that the training in in south africa is not up to par with most countries but dont believe everything you hear, as I've had a few friends do their training in south africa and they say its just as good as anywhere else in the world. just thing that worries me is the SACAA license fair enough license is a license and if you work any where else you'll need to convert but not necessarily with a JAA.plus i dont really plan on working in SA.

people have told me that JAA opens up more doors as it is highly recognized and it saves time and money having to convert all the time when working for different companies in different parts of the world to their licenses if you held lets say a SACAA

Thing is i did research on what companies around the world are asking for when applying and a lot are asking for JAA even none JAA countries they looking for pilots with their national licensed authority from their country and along side are looking for foreign pilots who hold JAA.

Looking into converting a SACAA to JAA it sounds to me that you have to take the all exams again.
Then I've heard and also read about other licenses if you are a european citizen you dont have to take all exams just 3 exams met and cant remember the other 2

as i said dont believe everything that you hear but im just saying these things to find out whether someone on here can give the right answer.

so quick recap

-SACAA license holder needs to convert to other licenses all the time when applying to companies in different countries because not recognized, costing money and time
SACAA converting to JAA need to take all exams if none european citizen. costing more money
(other story i read SA citizen has a FAACPL license wanted to convert o SACAA but had to do all exams again because he was not US citizen. if he was he would only have to do 3 exams) correct me please if im wrong.

-JAA license holder saves time and money because recognized all over the world and are asked for when applying, with national licenses of that country along side

You could say "you have just answered your question clinton"seems like you hung on doing the JAA. im not I'm open for anything I'm just looking at the various options so that i know that which ever direction i go is going to save me money (not having to convert all the time),time not having to do exams all over again, not having to convert) and opens more doors.
i think its more beneficial having a JAA license than a SACAA but any advice to shed some light on this and correct me would be great.

Thanks for your time and advice.
safe flying :ok:

13th Nov 2010, 23:26
Thanks guys ... lots to think about, so I appreciate the advice!

23rd Nov 2010, 20:26
Guys, there is nothing wrong with the SACAA license. The theory standards are higher than the JAA and the standard of training at the top flight schools equals or exceeds that of most JAR schools.

Many South African pilots are hired by airlines such as Cathay, Emirates, Etihad and Qatar, to name a few. PLUS, airlines in the EU are saturated with pilots and there is little growth or prospect for growth due to the state of the EU economy.

HOWEVER, African aviation is booming and there is going to be plenty of hiring taking place over the next few years.

If you still feel that you want to convert to JAR after you complete your SACAA Multi CPL at around half the cost of what a JAR school would have charged you, you will be well prepared and will be able to do so both easily and quickly. As for converting to FAA after the SACAA license, that is a walk in the park and will take you all of two weeks to do.

24th Nov 2010, 02:17
Hello guys, I'm actually in the same boat as I've had this same predicament on my mind...
At the moment I live in England and am a PPL holder been studying for my JAA ATPL's. But lately ive been thinking that due to the way the UK/EU market is, I will most probably move abroad to Africa, Mid or Far East, not just due to the market but I have been planning this move for a long time and it helps that I have a lot of my close family in these regions.
Obviously for this reason, I wouldnt need to neccesarily go for a JAA ATPL and instead a CPL from an Icao state such as South Africa would be sufficient???

Personally I'm aiming to get a cpl from maybe South Africa or Asia, followed by a type rating and block hours on jet, whichever would be most beneficial? Then I would aim for the airlines in Africa, Mid, Far east but definitely nowhere in UK or Europe as we all know how difficult times are and my Icao license wouldn't be sufficient and even if I had a JAA ATPL not that a low time pilot like me would get anywhere?

I understand that technically I would be paying for my block hours but I personally believe that would be the fastest way to achieve a dream??

Any thoughts people??? Much appreciated... Thanks in advance.

24th Nov 2010, 06:04
I feel I'm qualified enough to give advice because not only am I a flight school shareholder in South Africa and know what standards we are required to uphold, but I obtained my initial CPL and ATP through the FAA and then converted to SACAA after returning to SA. I also flew for the UN and Red Cross to get my initial experience and now fly for the national carrier in SA. I fly to London quite often and it is sad to visit the local pilot shops and to meet the qualified CPL students who work there, and have for many years, after spending a fortune on their CPL only to have little chance of finding any work to bridge the gap between a fresh CPL and an airline job. Africa has an abundance of jobs for fresh CPL's whether it requires being an instructor at one of the flight schools or flying tourists in Botswana or Windhoek in clapped out C206's or C210's. Africa is still your best chance for getting to where you want to within a decent time frame.

29th Nov 2010, 12:58
Totally true jbayfan ive heard the same with the training standard in SA but im just looking at cost wise and time. yes south africa is cheap but really not as cheap as america but seeing at how the rand is doing against the dollar it could change.

80% of me wants to go to SA and do my training as i haven't lived there in years but if i look at what i need to spend later on, it looks as if getting a JAA it will save you a lot of money and time in the long run. Of course a license is a license but it costs having to convert licenses. Even with a SACAA you can go to any airline without a doubt totally agree but you have to convert your license if they don't take SACAA so that means money to do the training in order to obtain the License needed and on top to convert it.

So which route to go which one SACAA or JAA route. if i get a JAA i dont plan on working in europe i know europe is saturated with pilots but just because i might want to go get a JAA license doesn't mean i want to work in europe, but looking at the options on what airlines are asking for a lot is JAA. if holding a JAA license if i find a job in bangladesh i would take it, its a job and gains you experience.

example you have 2 pilots one with SACAA ATPL 3000hrs and other JAA ATPL 3000hrs both exact same but airline Z are looking for pilots that hold JAA yes the guy with the SACAA has the right to apply being prepared to convert license etc he can get the job not a problem but airline Z will take the JAA because they wont have to wait for the guy that holds a SACAA to convert his license.

In SA i dont see much happening theres not that many airlines in the country and none are hiring at the moment, i think you might have a better chance to get a position maybe in europe than SA europe its a much bigger geographical graph more airlines but of course helps to know languages because i dont think air france will hire someone if they just know english.

So i could be wrong with everything i said, anyone know better please correct me im not really qualified i dont hold a license yet but i have been doing a lot of research and have friends that are pilots so just going about the information ive obtained but yea different countries have different rules with converting or the hours needed or cost etc.

Thanks and safe flying

30th Nov 2010, 19:02
Hi ClintonB,

You mentioned no airlines are hiring in South Africa. SAA hired around 25 pilots during the last two months and will be hiring another 25 early next year. Interviews are currently in full swing.

This means that all the other airlines will have to hire pilots to fill the openings left by the pilots moving to SAA.

In the end the choice is yours but if I had to do it all over again I would still train in SA.


30th Nov 2010, 19:05
Additionally, no airline outside of Europe will have a problem with a SACAA license or require conversion to JAR. There may be one or two exceptions but then you will probably find they are not worth working for.

If you are really passionate about flying for a living, there is no better airline to work for than SAA. The only way to get there is to move back to SA, get your CPL and instructors rating and get the hours you need to move into the local airlines and eventually SAA.

1st Dec 2010, 05:41
A multitude of points assail the expiring brain.
If anyone is going to base their plans around working in southern Africa then they had better ensure that they have access to the right to live and work in the respective country.
As between the long term future of South Africa, Britain and Europe, the former looks a pretty good bet against the latter and against the pig in the middle there is no contest at all. That's a doomed nation and has been for many a long change of government. It's the people you see, nothing to be done about it.
In regard to SAA and work in South Africa I think the following should be emphasised. The airline pilot prospect in this neck of the woods is entirely dictated by South African Airways and its intakes. That in turn is to a certain degree dictated to by political requirements. Every intake in SAA stirs up the sludgy pilot pool from the bottom up and affects any tier of employment in the region from instruction through charter to medium jet flying. But there has not been an SAA intake of such significance as that in progress now for a very long time It's been perhaps a decade and without such stimulus the job market has been very stagnant indeed. So be warned that in South Africa there is really only one major aviation industrial factor determining work opportunities.
As a small aside, I wonder what advantage there is in SAA interview for flight crew to be able to speak an African language such as Zulu, Tswana or Xhosa? Most of the people I know who fly for Spoories can rub along well enough in Afrikaans but that's not really a structured language.
As to training, I don't think it's true to say that between Britain and SA any one 'system' is better. There are significant differences and these are reflective to a certain extent of the weather considerations and categories and congestion of air spaces. In the end the aviator quality boils down to experience and the lack of that with the commensurate lowering of standards by some airlines to accommodate less experienced pilots is of course why automated Airbus has such a good sales record.
There are surely more cowboys in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa than there are flying around European skies. They survive through the two hundred to five hundred hour period of egotistical air headedness which most of us have experienced because of their good fortune to fly in what is really a benign environment. In England or Europe these guys would have to be instructing if they weren't under the care of a line captain. Instructing carries with it its own disciplines and structures.
If you don't want to live in Britain or Europe then why bother with the JAR licence. I think jbayfan is quite correct and there are lots of South African pilots flying all over the world having converted their SAA/ATPLs according to culinary taste and environment.
There's always a shortcut. Aviation is quite a fickle mistress and planning for the future is notoriously difficult. Play the cards in your hand for all you're worth and bluff like billy ho when you get called. Toodle pip.

1st Dec 2010, 08:03
cavortingcheetah thanks for your post interesting stuff got me thinking a bit :ok:. i agree on the job market in SA there really aren't that many airlines in the country compared to say in europe.You hold a SACAA license you work in South Africa but then you look at how many airlines there are in the country there really aren't that many, if you hold a JAA license you can go work anywhere around europe so its more diverse, more airlines to try get a job with even though the job market is so saturated and of course it helps if you speak their language, gives you a bit more of an advantage but i wouldn't say someone that didn't speak the language wouldn't be capable to apply and possibly get the job.

i hold dual citizenship SA and european i speak 4 languages but i dont really care where i work if its in europe, south africa or anywhere else jobs are so limited right now that i would take anything if it would be in bangladesh or other part of the world where people would hate to live or work in but its a job, get to gain experience and at least it brings a little money.In this period of time beggars cant be choosers especially if its competing in the pilot world.

i dont think its the case if you not going to work in europe then why think of getting a JAA if you are a pilot and hold a valid license you can go work where ever depending whether you have the right to work where ever you get that job.
people go to South Africa to get their license because its cheap and its a wonderful place to do your training but they end up going back to their home country and converting the license so i dont think if you not going to work in the place you getting your license from then why get that license at all, its all about prices and what you get for the training and period of tie it takes to do the training (as to weather in some countries are worse than other places).

There are from what i've seen, i could be wrong but holding one license can have more of an advantage than another. As i said before, theres a lot of airlines outside of europe asking pilots that hold a JAA license along side their own license holders, so from what i've seen and researching on cost/time. It will cost and take bit more time to convert your license and doing the exams and doing the check rides in order to be eligible for a JAA license.

So do you do 18 months to do JAA and save time and money later on when looking for jobs or
do 18 months to do SACAA and later on when looking for work outside of africa spending more money on converting, necessary exams needed to be taken and then the waiting period.

im just debating where to do my training you could say from reading this i kinda made my choice but the options that i got kinda leaves me hanging.

1 Train in South Africa get a SACAA fATPL license pretty cheap time to do training 14-18 months

disadvantages: work outside of Africa need to convert time and more money (but i could be wrong )

2 Train in the US get a JAA fATPL license same price or little bit cheaper than south africa time to do training 10-12 months

Another one people say to go for is to get an FAA license, asia. the caribbean are hiring FAA pilots.

3 Train in the US get a FAA CPLMEI time to do training 4 months

So if anyone else has some insight to this it would be great correct me if im wrong about the SACAA if you know it isn't such a process to get the license converted let me know as im just taking the knowledge i know from researching but it be best if it came from the horses mouth so to say.

safe flying

2nd Dec 2010, 09:13
I am probably coming at this from a very different angle, but i think that the African Continent has alot going for it with regards to flying. I have read alot about the problems of low hour pilots finding that first rung on the ladder and i have to say that i think it is easier in Afirica than in Europe.

We ran (closed it down for a year and are about to re-open it again) a flight school in Zambia, (for those of you who dont know where that is, it is about 600NM north of South Africa, just above Botswana and Zimbabwe) and i learnt my piloting here.

I was trained by an instructor with 14,500 hours and was a holder of an FAA ATPL and JAA ATPL, along with about 8 other countries, where he had worked over his career. He taught me alot, but taylored it more towards Zambian flying rather than real world. (where the beacons work and the Radar's can see you and the ATC are understandable and can cope with more than one aircraft in 5 minutes without getting flustered). After getting my Zambian CPL i went to the States and continued my training, to find out what life is like in an environment with functioning support. It is very different, but i do believe that the Zambian experience made me into a better pilot. It could eb a cowboy pilot, i know i am happy to land on most dirt strips provided there is not too much game on it, and i will drop onto roads (dirt) if i have to, but i am equally happy landing on Tar, when i can.

I had no issues converting my license to FAA, and i know of several people i have helped to validate their Zambian licenses to FAA, which was not a difficult task.

I have had quite a few people go through our school, and then take their licenses to Europe of elsewhere and convert. I will use my big brother as an example, i had the pleasure (it is not often you can make your big brither squirm) of training him for his license, which, following completion he took to belgium (he is British by the way) and converted quickly to a JAA license with full credit for his Zambian flying experience. he had to take 3 exams and carry out a flight test, but that was all. be now has both his JAA and Zambian licenses.

There are alot of opertunities for low hour pilots down here, in the Southern African region, but the local authorities are becoming more protective. Zambia has now introduced a requirement that to convert, or validate, your license to fly a Zambian registered aircraft you must have at least 1,000 hours PIC before they will allow you to fly commercial single pilot operations (even in a C172).

I know from experience that there are plenty of people in Europe who come to Africa to build their time, we employed many over the years and when we put out job ads, they were always replied to in the main by Europeans and South Africans, all of which would have to validate their license before they could start work.

Good luck which everyway you go, it is fun down here, but hot, and the flying is very very exciting in the main, well, the bush parts are anyway.

2nd Dec 2010, 14:21
Did I just read right?? To convert a Zambian license to JAA was only 3 exams in Belgium and not 14???


2nd Dec 2010, 17:34
But did he get a Flemish licence or a Walloon one?

3rd Dec 2010, 09:31
TT, Multi hours, Turbine time & Jet time are what people will note on your CV...
If you have been trained properly conversion to JAR should not be that hard, bear in mind this is still africa and if you go to the right place (or wrong place i should say) you could buy your licence, a flight school has been caught out recently in this regard and has subsequently.
Choose your flight school carefully and you should be fine but that should be the case wherever in the world you choose to train.
If you looking to save money id say do it in south africa, did my training out of lanseria JHB with skyhawk and my flight instructor was "giving back" had 5000hrs jet time experience and was just helping out on his off days..
Lanseria is a good sized aerodrome and you and sharing runways with jets up to the size of 737's.
Once done there are far more options in africa than there are in europe for low hour CPL holders but really you are clearing the mist on the bottom of mount everest in terms of experience ...

7th Dec 2010, 09:50
i wouldnt say south africa is cheaper i still think the US is cheaper.

as i said having one license can have more advantages than another.
im trying to save money and just want to see whether training in one country might be better than training in another. south africa and US are both cheap to train compared to other parts of the world but the school i checked out in the states has good prices but i travel so much through out the year that it would be nice to train in south africa and be close to my folks as i dont get to see them that often.

so im trying to see where i can save money and yes get the training done in a good period of time.
i just think if i do my training in south africa ill end up spending more money and taking up more time in converting having to do all 14 exams again to convert to JAA
than just doing it in the states and getting the JAA fATPL license there and get it done in shorter period of time. but if im mistaken and can convert my SACAA license without a problem and no hassles then i would love to go to south africa and put the extra year that is required for training and be closer to my folks

16th Dec 2010, 00:59
In SA chances are that 90 percent of the instructors you will interact with, are 200 hour whizz kids. Or those with 3000 hours, have spent the vast majority of that on left downwind at the airport housing their school.

Think about it.

16th Dec 2010, 05:30
It's too long since I trained at Van Nuys for specific comment to be fair about US flight training.
Something is afoot with flight training in South Africa and I can't quite put my finger on it.
It seems to me as though training schools are being pushed into a corner either by the CAA, whose old style hands on approach to training seems to have gone, or by the airports from which they operate. It's almost as though training establishments are not wanted and has their client base changed completely? What has happened to Private Pilot Licence Training as opposed to training for the Commercial Licence? Is private licence training for its own sake a dead fly? Schools seem to have a preponderance of commercially orientated pupils from the east across the waters or up country across the deserts. If South African schools have become training centres for foreign students that may well be in part because certain foreigners find it difficult to obtain Visas for the USA these days. That's probably bread and butter for the local schools but do I detect or imagine a change of attitude among instructors that indicates that training is now not so much a vocation as a turkey farm? That's understandable if the first set of circumstances which I spoke about is correct but you don't need to be a rocket scientist to see that there is a great danger here for a gradual and involuntary erosion of attitudes as well as standards. Flight training was always a stepping stone of course but I don't suppose it's helped outlooks that thanks primarily to economics the progression across that stony path has been slow. Then too there is the quality of ATC at certain airfields. Dangerous situations due to inexperience or lack of ATC training cannot always be explained away by calling them character building or whatever excuse one wants to dredge up for inefficiency.
If I were starting out with a bundle of bucks and an acceptable passport, I think I would very seriously consider going to the USA for my training. I think the experience of training from of a relatively busy US airfield with its functioning instrument systems, weather considerations and infrastructure would be of such value to the aspiring South African commercial pilot as to be worth considering. The fact that attitudes at American airfields might be utterly commercial is no longer of any disadvantage whatsoever to the student pilot at whatever stage of his training he may be.

19th Dec 2010, 20:31
Checked the GBP/ZAR rate. Pretty devastating. I wanted to do bit of heli flying there, after my US comm, but the mid-market rate of 10 Rand to Pound (even at its low) is pretty much a no-go. It's cheaper to fly in Australia or NZ, comparatively.

As for fixed wing, it was reasonable, but I doubt it's any cheaper now than in some nicely priced FTO in the US. For short trip, yes, the lack of hassle with SEVIS/TSA/visa/school 'admin' fees etc could make up for going to SA for PPL, but for the whole training, hmm.

That's just pure economics. I'd still like to do some flying in SA, seeing the Capetown backdrop in real, etc. Unless there's another ZAR crash just like couple years ago, I can't see the reason only to have the best deal for limited budget.

22nd Dec 2010, 15:38
I was in the same boat about 7 or 8 years ago . I chose to come home to SA . If you only want to fly in the airlines and nothing short of a 737 will satisfy ( missing out on lots of fun ) then do your JAR licsense and join the long,long,long queue of fATPL's looking for work without prospects .

I came out to SA and have been flying comercially for 6 years and enjoy it almost all of the time , I am not flying 737's but I have loads of fun .

A friend of mine came home to SA , same time as me and has been flying for 6 yrs , he flies ERJ135's and has a total time of 3000 hours and 1000 on the ERJ ,while another friend decided to stay in the UK , he has a fATPL and nothing else after 7 yrs ....I remember him joking and saying he would be waving at us from FL350 and we would be trawling in our caravans.

My friend flying the ERJ is thinking about converting his full SACAA ATP for a JAR ATP ( he has been informed he will have to do the 14 subjects -no ground school . and a flight test )

Who would you hire ?

SEO by vBSEO 3.6.1